Minneapolis, MN — White police officers who fatally shoot African Americans usually get away with it without any charges. But Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who is Black, has been sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for shooting Justine Damond, a white woman, back in July 2017.
The sentencing came two days after Noor’s lawyers asked the judge for no jail time or even just “less time than what sentencing guidelines call for.” They claimed that Noor showed a rather good attitude and sense of remorse during trial.
Noor, who is a 33-year old Somali-American, was responding to a 911 call of a possible assault near the caller’s house. Noor was with his partner, Matthew Harrity, when they arrived on the scene and he saw a woman in a pink shirt with blond hair outside of Harrity’s window.
Noor said that when the woman raised her right arm, he was threatened and his initial reaction was to fire one shot.
“My intent was to stop the threat and save my partner’s life,” he said.
Afterwards, he said he immediately realized that he had shot an innocent woman. The woman named Justine Damond is an Australian and she was the one who called 911 at that time. He remorsefully said on the stand, “I felt like my whole world came crashing down. I couldn’t breathe.”
Noor also mentioned about his “counter-ambush” training, in which two officers are placed in a mock scenario where they are in a squad car and an instructor yells “Threat!” The officers would then have to make a quick decision if they should shoot.
“Action is better than reaction,” Noor, who became a police officer in 2016, insisted. “If you’re reacting, that means it’s too late… to protect yourself… You die.”
Despite his defense, Noor was found guilty of third degree murder and second degree murder. He was sentenced to 150 months in prison. He is the first police officer in Minnesota to be convicted of an on-duty shooting.